House of Style

My submission for the September Style issue of She Magazine:

I like brown – and black – even when they’re not really “in.” In fact, I have so many brown t-shirts that my friend started calling me Brownie (Get it? My name’s Cookie….Brownie, uh, anyway…). I think that makes me predictable and boring – not stylish. I am symmetrical; I like to match. I like to super match. I’d love to be hip and get my nose pierced, but I’m just not. On a good day, I might throw on one of my four favorite pairs of jeans, chunky heels, a t-shirt (yep, brown or black), a sizeable belt and maybe a jacket or vest. I always wear the same shade of the same brand of lipstick (Spice Sachet, thank you very much) regardless of the season, and I use the same purse well into the wrong season. Contrary to the wardrobe rules of my fashion-forward spouse, if an article of clothing has short sleeves it is spring, summer, and fall attire here in South Carolina. If there are long sleeves, it is a winter garment; I don’t care what color it is! I think the issue is more a lack of creativity than a lack of courage, but my style is more than my unimaginative apparel.

An ice-cold 20 ounce Diet Pepsi is my style. Zumba at the gym is my style. Jack Johnson, fresh air, a good book, good friends, good food, a nap, and laughter are my style. I can wear them well.

Carson, on the other hand, takes seriously her sense of fashion as a six year-old. She creates ensembles in which all color groups are well represented, and they inflame my matching sensitivities. I do my best to allow and encourage her expression whenever possible, but she is aware that our styles are different. In fact, we were recently shopping in the shoe department in Target. We struck up a conversation with the nicest sales associate, and I was conveying my disbelief at the resurrection of jelly shoes. Who knew that even they, the most grievous of fashion offenses, would enjoy a new day? The sales lady proceeded to enlighten us on the current trends as reported by one of the morning shows; matching was no longer cool. O horrors, I thought. Apparently it is much more chic to couple different colors and complementary textures. As we wrapped up the morning show recap and parted company, Carson looked up at me with a justified expression and said, “See, Momma, that’s my style!” I had to give it to her, so – as it turns out – my daughter is fashion-forward too. She describes her style as funky and comfortable, and she is in to bling and dazzle and sparkle and shimmer and glitter and glow and pink. She owns ninety-seven tubes of lip gloss (not really) and has far more purses than I do.

Junie B. Jones is her style. Stuffed animals and The Magic Schoolbus are her style. Chick-Fil-A, a dance tune, her cousin – Lily, any surprise, Kit, and playing school are her style. They are part of her groove.

Campbell, as a three year-old, is not too focused on fashion yet. But she has had one shoe preoccupation: her clearance Target-version UGG boots. During the cooler months she wore them with everything, even dresses. During the summer she has sported them with cut-off jean shorts that were too short a long time ago and a Mickey Mouse t-shirt. Our morning decisions revolve around whether she’s feeling one ponytail or two that day. She has shown some minor interest in piercing her ears, but her parents are implementing stalling tactics for the next couple of years on that one.

Cuddling with her two favorite blankies is her style. Dora and her ladybug umbrella and big-girl cups and popcorn are her style. She digs cutting with (safe) scissors, and she can rock some corn on the cob. Her favorite things are her finest accessories.

Now the husband brings some highly contested fashion regulations that I often balk. I treasure his opinion, but I’m not sure I trust his rules. I take them with the proverbial grain of salt. He creates uniforms within his clothing options that he cycles through every week. Once a shirt is married to a pair of shorts, there is little chance a different grouping will occur in the future. Chris prizes his Olukai flip-flops, his cheap but current jeans, and his clubbin’ shirts (even though we don’t club). He was voted Best Dressed in his high school class; maybe I should reconsider my dismissal of his advice.

Clemson football is his style. Edging our driveway and encouraging our grass are his style. Good running shoes, bodies of water, pineapple casserole, and old school headbands are his style. They suit him.

So, there it is. There’s not that much style in our house; at least not in the way we dress. Who knows, maybe the year of brown will roll around again before too long. We’re a fairly predictable pack of Cawthons, each with our own quirks and preferences. High fashion or not, that’s just how we roll…

Mission Impossible

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